Life with the world’s most endangered tribe: Intimate pictures capture Amazon hunters desperate fight for survival

Life with the world’s most endangered tribe: Intimate pictures capture Amazon hunters desperate fight for survival

  • The Brazilian Amazon’s Awa-Guaja people are under threat from loggers and farmers wanting land
  • Photographer Daniel Rodrigues breathtakingly captures their lives in beautiful and confronting images
  • Scenes he captures include a snarling red puma while hunting and stunning shots of children at play 

A few weeks is nothing in the context of the ancient existence of the Amazon’s Awa-Guaja people, but in his short time one photographer managed to capture the everyday life of a tribe considered the most endangered in the world.

Daniel Rodrigues created a breathtaking collection of images depicting the beauty and brutality of their troubled existence.

The Awa-Guaja tribes are critically under threat from loggers and grazing farmers keen to decimate their pocket of the vast Brazilian rainforest and through desperation have only in recent decades come out of their centuries of avoiding contact with westerners – some remain uncontacted by white people.

Kiby (face obscured), of the Awa-Guaja tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, carries a red jaguar on her back after a hunt in the rainforest 

Kiby (face obscured), of the Awa-Guaja tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, carries a red jaguar on her back after a hunt in the rainforest

Awa-Guaja hunter Aiwxa'a brandishes a stick while a red puma refuses to give up the fight after be hit by two bullets from a shotgun

Awa-Guaja hunter Aiwxa’a brandishes a stick while a red puma refuses to give up the fight after be hit by two bullets from a shotgun

Photographer Daniel Rodrigues got remarkable access to the daily life of the tribe, and was forced to communicate via hand gestures

Photographer Daniel Rodrigues got remarkable access to the daily life of the tribe, and was forced to communicate via hand gestures

Senior hunters Jakare and Majhuxa'a stand with stern faces and shot guns after successfully hunting down a monkey for their family

Senior hunters Jakare and Majhuxa’a stand with stern faces and shot guns after successfully hunting down a monkey for their family

An intimate family moment captured by Rodrigues as uoung mother Panapinuhum breastfeeds her son Arywi in the river Caru

An intimate family moment captured by Rodrigues as uoung mother Panapinuhum breastfeeds her son Arywi in the river Caru

In a scene that could be from anywhere in the world, Piraima'a washes clothes in the river as children bath around him

In a scene that could be from anywhere in the world, Piraima’a washes clothes in the river as children bath around him

The French-born photographer, based in Portugal, travels the world to snap incredible black and white and colour images, documenting them on his site DanielRodriguesPhoto.com, but had never come across a tribe so untouched by modern life before.

While their nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle requires a level of bravery and enterprise many westerners will never comprehend, Portugal-based Rodrigues found a friendly and welcoming people despite needing to rely on hand gestures for communication.

The tribe, which numbers around 350 people, first adopted a nomadic lifestyle to avoid confrontations with invading Europeans and have successfully lived in the Amazon ever since.

His journey to the eastern Amazon in the wet season last year saw Rodrigues join hunting missions in dense foliage for periods that would equate to a day and half of office work for a westerner.

The tribes people hunted indigenous red puma, Capuchin monkey and other land animals, and fished their plentiful rivers for fish and poraque (electric eels) for their fully self-sustained existence that they are in serious danger of losing without help in their battle against loggers.

With the ultimate playground at their disposal, some would say, the kids of the Awa-Guaja tribe play in the river Juriti in the village Tiracambu

With the ultimate playground at their disposal, some would say, the kids of the Awa-Guaja tribe play in the river Juriti in the village Tiracambu

Hakoain is only a recent discovery for the outside world having connected 10 years ago - she stands with her son Mayra

Hakoain is only a recent discovery for the outside world having connected 10 years ago – she stands with her son Mayra

Young boy Aparyta stands comfortably with a native monkey he keeps as a pet asleep on his head – the tribe also hunt monkeys for food

Muturuhum draws back his bow and arrow. While having limited access to guns, in many cases the tribe prefers traditional hunting methods

Muturuhum draws back his bow and arrow. While having limited access to guns, in many cases the tribe prefers traditional hunting methods

Majhuxa'a prefers a fire to cook food on the move during a day of hunting - no firelighters here

Majhuxa’a prefers a fire to cook food on the move during a day of hunting – no firelighters here

Pytyra pokes his head out the door of her house, made from leaves and branches found in the forest, in the village Guaja

Pytyra pokes his head out the door of her house, made from leaves and branches found in the forest, in the village Guaja

Little Ariwa decides this carves canoe is the best place to take a nap in the village Juriti in the eastern Amazon

Little Ariwa decides this carves canoe is the best place to take a nap in the village Juriti in the eastern Amazon

In some rare good news for the tribes, Survival International reported in April last year that the Awá and their supporters celebrated the Brazilian government’s move to send in troops to remove illegal loggers from Awá land.

The military intervention in the states of Para and Maranhao is just the beginning though with the Amazon such an incredibly vast area that is tough to defend.

Young, strong and toned, Marimy looks at peace as he takes a bath in the river near the village Guajá in Alto Turiacu

With the face of a life well lived, Takwarexa'a is one of the elderly residents of the Awa Guaja indigenous tribe in the village of Juriti

With the face of a life well lived, Takwarexa’a is one of the elderly residents of the Awa Guaja indigenous tribe in the village of Juriti

Sabia, seemingly without a care in the world, plays with the overhanging vines in the river Igarapa in the village Tiracamba

Sabia, seemingly without a care in the world, plays with the overhanging vines in the river Igarapa in the village Tiracamba

The greatest threat to the ancient tribes of the Awa-Guaja is loggers, who have resorted to violence in their bid to decimate the forest

The greatest threat to the ancient tribes of the Awa-Guaja is loggers, who have resorted to violence in their bid to decimate the forest

Aparyta and Hemokoma'a survey the damage inflicted by loggers on their land that the Brazil government is now trying to help protect

Aparyta and Hemokoma’a survey the damage inflicted by loggers on their land that the Brazil government is now trying to help protect

Worth protecting, a view up into the canopy of the Maranhao state's rainforest that belongs to the Awa-Guaja people

Worth protecting, a view up into the canopy of the Maranhao state’s rainforest that belongs to the Awa-Guaja people

On the hunt, Arawata runs armed with a spear after seeing an animal in the jungle as he looks to help provide for his family 

On the hunt, Arawata runs armed with a spear after seeing an animal in the jungle as he looks to help provide for his family

After six hours of walking, Rodrigues says Muturuhum saw a monkey and tried to kill it with his arrow

After six hours of walking, Rodrigues says Muturuhum saw a monkey and tried to kill it with his arrow

A capuchin monkey down lays dead on the forest floors after a successful hunting mission for the Awa-Guaja

A capuchin monkey down lays dead on the forest floors after a successful hunting mission for the Awa-Guaja

As the sun sets on another day, little girl Iwapanya plays by a tree with a friend in the village Tiracambu

As the sun sets on another day, little girl Iwapanya plays by a tree with a friend in the village Tiracambu

Pirama'a fishing for poraque in a still body of water - the fish would be better know to English speakers electric eels

Pirama’a fishing for poraque in a still body of water – the fish would be better know to English speakers electric eels

Awa-Guaja woman Amypirawaja cooks in her home in the village Juriti - her name translates into 'mother fish'

Awa-Guaja woman Amypirawaja cooks in her home in the village Juriti – her name translates into ‘mother fish’

Muturuhum, one of the older hunters in the Awa-Guaja tribe, smiles for Rodrigues' camera during a day of hunting

Muturuhum, one of the older hunters in the Awa-Guaja tribe, smiles for Rodrigues’ camera during a day of hunting

An Awa-Guaja tribesman’s strong left arm holds their traditional bow and arrow during a hunting expedition

The Awa-Guaja traverse the forest floor of the Amazon with bare feet and minimal clothing

The Awa-Guaja traverse the forest floor of the Amazon with bare feet and minimal clothing

Little Yoxa'a wanders among the chickens, a farmed source of sustenance for the Awa-Guaja in the village of Juriti

Little Yoxa’a wanders among the chickens, a farmed source of sustenance for the Awa-Guaja in the village of Juriti

Daniel’s work with the Awa-Guaja was rewarded with an honourable mention in last year’s Moscow International Photo Awards, in which he also came second for his photo essay ‘Rapa das Bestas’ about horse wrestlers in Spain.

In 2013, he won the World Press Photo Daily Life category with a image of footballers in Guinea Bissau.

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